DVIDS units are equipped with portable technology, including Sony's DSRPD170P camcorders, a Nikon D2H still camera, laptop computers with Avid Express DV editing software and the Norsat NewsLink 3200 satellite terminal.
The U.S. military’s newly launched program to gather and transmit video, audio and photos to broadcasters, newspapers and other news organizations from the Middle East, including some of the most dangerous hotspots in Iraq, has grown dramatically since its deployment in June.
The military newsgathering venture, Digital Video and Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS), initially equipped three units in Iraq, and one in Afghanistan and Kuwait. The units were equipped with portable technology, including Sony's DSRPD170P camcorders, a Nikon D2H still camera, laptop computers with Avid Express DV editing software and the Norsat NewsLink 3200 satellite terminal.
Now, the military is fielding seven DVIDS units in Iraq, and by January 2005 plans to deploy a total of 14 DVIDS in that country, said Lt. Col. William Beckman with the Third Army in Atlanta. It’s also added a DVIDS unit in Qatar. The DVIDS program gives the news media from coalition countries –but primarily the United States- access to B-roll of unfolding events, and interviews with a broad range of military personnel and Iraqi officials. Since June 15, DVIDS units have conducted 350 interviews with military personnel ranging in rank from private first class to lieutenant general.
Stations with a military base in their viewing area have used the DVIDS service to keep their audience in touch with deployed units from their area. For instance, WABI-TV in Bangor, ME, airs a weekly program called “Mainers in Mosul” with video and satellite transmission services from DVIDS units stationed in Iraq.
DVIDS units don’t only fill requests from stations stateside. They respond to events on the ground in Iraq by providing B-roll and interviews with key sources when news breaks. When anti-Iraqi forces attacked and briefly occupied a police station in Mosul and subsequently were engaged and removed by coalition forces, a DVIDS unit was on site to shoot B-roll and interview commanders, soldiers and an Iraqi police chief.
Stations with a military base in their viewing area have used the DVIDS service to keep their audience in touch with deployed units from their area.
Back at the DVIDS central collection and distribution center in Atlanta, Beckman’s group line up 15-minute slots for all of the major U.S. broadcast and cable news networks to conduct live interviews from Mosul via the DVIDS units.
According to Beckman, Iraq continues to be a dangerous place for journalists. “It’s 56 percent more likely that a journalist will be killed than a soldier (outside Baghdad in Iraq),” he said. As a result, Beckman said, most of the media is “hunkered down” in the relative safety of the Iraqi capital. DVIDS units give the media access to people and events outside Baghdad that otherwise would go uncovered,
While transmission of video from the field is digital, DVIDS makes both analog and digital footage available to broadcasters from its satellite turnaround operation out of Crawford Communications in Atlanta.
Stations wishing to view archived DVIDS video or make a request, should visit: www.dvidshub.net.